Steven Matz: Long Island’s Own Making His New York Mets debut

By Michael Lecolant

Steven Matz, the 24-year old product of Stony Brook, N.Y., will make his much-anticipated major league pitching debut Sunday afternoon at Citi Field against the Cincinnati Reds.

Steven was drafted out of Ward Melville High School (N.Y.) in the 2nd round of the 2009 amateur draft.

Unfortunately, he required Tommy John surgery early in 2010 during the initial stages of instructional league.

Matz did not make his professional debut until 2012 for Kingsport of the (R) Appalachian League.  He managed 6 appearances before season’s end, and posted a 2-1 record with an impressive 1.55 ERA in 29 innings pitched, while averaging 5.0 H/9, 5.3 W/9, and 10.6 K/9.

Mar 7, 2015; Jupiter, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher

Steven Matz

(32) delivers a pitch during a spring training baseball game against the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Promoted to the (A) South Atlantic League in 2013, he worked very closely with then Savannah Sand Gnats pitching coach Frank Viola on his breaking pitches.  In 21 starts, Matz went 5-6 with a 2.62 ERA.  He lowered his walk rate down to 3.2 W/9, and posted a second straight double-digit 10.2 K/9 average.

Steven Matz started 2014 with (A+) Port St. Lucie, where he posted a 2.22 ERA in 12 starts and 69 innings pitched.  He was then promoted to (AA) Binghamton, and despite an incrementally higher 2.28 ERA, Steven turned in a generally better performance against elevated play.

For the season, he combined on a 10-9 record with a 2.25 ERA in 24 starts and 140 innings pitched.  He reduced his walk rate even further to 2.2 W/9, complimented by an 8.4 K/9 average.

Steven Matz was promoted to the (AAA) Las Vegas 51s this season, and reunited with old pitching coach Frank Viola.  Undeterred by hitter friendly Cashman Field and the greater Pacific Coast League, Matz was near dominant over (14 starts) 15 appearances.  He was 7-4 with a league leading 2.19 ERA over 90.1 innings pitched, his WHiP was at a career best 1.107, and he was leading the circuit in strikeouts.

With Steven Matz‘ Super-2 arbitration eligibility date safely behind the Mets, there remained little justification for keeping him at Las Vegas any longer.  That being said, Dillon Gee‘s ineffectiveness became Steven Matz‘ opportunity.

The Mets latest highly touted pitching prospect will join Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Bartolo Colon, and Jon Niese to re-form a transient 6-man starting rotation.  It’s hard to judge how long this latest (albeit more serious) attempt at an extended rotation will last.  All but Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese are on prescribed inning limits.

Besides, injuries have a way of ruining even the best laid plans.  We’ll have to wait and see on that one, but, the Mets pitching staff could certainly use the infusion.

On May 19th, the Mets entered their series against the Cardinals (#1 ERA) boasting the league’s 2nd best team ERA.  By May 24th, they dropped to 3rd behind Pittsburgh.  They very recently dropped to 5th in team ERA, but have recovered slightly and enter Sunday’s game fractions ahead of the Cubs with the National League’s 4th best team ERA.

Promoting Steven Matz was a necessary step in the right direction.  In terms of pitching, Sandy Alderson must now address an increasingly weary bullpen.

On a developmental note, the road to Queens has been longer for some Mets starting pitchers than others.

Of the potential Fab-Five (Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz), Matz pitched the third least minor league innings (365.2) prior to his MLB debut.  Matt Harvey threw just 245.0 minor league innings prior to his.  Jacob deGrom threw the second least, with 323.1 innings.

The imported pitchers, Wheeler and Thor, took longer perhaps due to transitional reasons.  Wheeler posted 391.1 minor league innings, while Thor posted 456.1 innings before either made their respective Mets debuts.

Sunday’s start at Citi Field is quite obviously a homecoming for the Long Island native as well.  Steven Matz will no doubt have his own personal rooting section populated with family and multitudes of friends cheering his every pitch.

On behalf of the staff here at Rising Apple, I would like to welcome Steven back home, and extend our Metsian hopes for a successful, if not stellar major league debut.

Good Luck!